Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quick Bar fail: learning Twitter's app update lesson

Ever since Twitter came out with a Mac app I have paid more attention to my Twitter feeds. The new Twitter app, found in Apple's new Mac App Store, came along just as things were heating up in Egypt. Between Twitter and the Livestation app stream Al Jazeera English, I was able to keep up with events.

Now it is Twitter that is creating news in the electronic media world. Last week Twitter issued an update to its iOS apps and users have been howling ever since.

The app update issued on March 3 has already generated over three thousand new reviews in the iTunes App Store, the vast majority of which are one-star pans.

So what has generated the wrath of iOS users? Quick Bar. "Quick Bar, shows trends and other important things without leaving your timeline! Swipe the Quick Bar left/right to cycle through trends," the app description modestly announces.

The Quick Bar, or the Dickbar, as John Gruber named it after Twitter's CEO Dick Costolo, is used to bring in advertising into the app through the guise of added content. Users aren't buying it.

The object lesson here, though, is two-fold: one, don't mindlessly update your apps, I can't show you the Quick Bar on one of my devices because I have decided to not update the app; and two, when it is time to update your own company's media app be prepared to react if things go wrong.
I can not tell you how many times I have seen an app updated only to begin reading reviews that say "hey, guys, your app doesn't work anymore!" Part of the reason for this is simply that many apps are developed by third parties and when something goes wrong it takes a long time to get them fixed -- like standing in line to buy tickets to something, then discovering that they sold you tickets to the wrong event and being forced to go again to the back of the line.